Turkish PM joins debate on presidential system

Turkish PM joins debate on presidential system

Turkish PM joins debate on presidential system

Turkish Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Slovenian prime minister attend a joint press conference in Ljubljana on May 7, 2012. Erdoğan pays a one day visit to Slovenia. AFP PHOTO

Ankara is set to revisit an old discussion over the compatibility of the presidential system to Turkey, as the ruling party has hinted that it will bring the issue to the agenda of Parliament’s Constitutional Conciliation Commission for in-depth consideration.

“Should Parliament say ‘We can apply this system,’ then we have nothing to say,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters at a joint press conference with Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janas in Ljubljana on Monday.

Amending the administrative system has long been an issue in Turkey since the presidency of Turgut Özal’s in the early 1990s. Erdoğan himself explicitly said he would favor a presidential system, which he believes to be more suitable for Turkey.

“The process has started. Everything can be discussed. These are main principles of democracy. Is it going to be a presidential or semi-presidential system? All will be discussed,” Erdoğan said, referring to the fact that the parliamentary commission has entered the second stage of creating a new charter, at which they will begin writing down future articles.

Supporters of the proposal argue that a more powerful executive would help Turkey’s development, while critics underline say it would threaten already weakened checks and balances in the system.
The discussion was sparked yesterday morning at a meeting in Parliament where Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ criticized the current parliamentary system for its inability to effectively implement the principle of the separation of powers.

“It’s very clear that it does not fully reflect a parliamentary system. But it is also not a presidential or semi-presidential system. It’s something unique to Turkey,” Bozdağ said when analyzing the current system.

He added that the system of checks and balances would be much more effective within the presidential system than in the parliamentary system, essentially making all three powers of the executive, legislation and judiciary more powerful as well.

Çiçek: open to discussion

Speaking at the same symposium, Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek said everything was open to debate. “The Justice and Development Party (AKP) has its representatives at the commission. If it comes to the agenda then it will be discussed,” he said.

CHP opposes the idea

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is opposed to adopting the presidential system on the grounds that it is not suitable for the Turkish political system and state structures.

“Turkey should not discuss the presidential system. It should not leave the parliamentary system,” Akif Hamzaçebi, deputy parliamentary group leader of the CHP told reporters.

The parliamentary system is effectively functioning and the only problem is the excessive power given to the president, he recalled, suggesting that the new charter should better deal with the status of the presidency.

“Parliament has full power if it is compared to [the powers of the] president in the parliamentary system. In the presidential system it has less power. The Turkish system is in the middle of the two systems,” Hamzaçebi said.

Mehmet Şandır, deputy parliamentary group leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) accepted that the current system had problems, but expressed his belief that they could be resolved through a democratic parliamentary system.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,